Skin Cancer vs High Blood Pressure
January 14, 2019 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Is sun exposure harmful or helpful? Outside magazine asks, "Is Sunscreen the New Margarine?"
posted by soelo (110 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Came to make the joke that there is no way sunscreen is as tasty as margarine, but now I'm sort of poleaxed that apparently vitamin supplements aren't helpful?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:15 AM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


How did we get through the Neolithic Era without sunscreen? Actually, perfectly well. What’s counterintuitive is that dermatologists run around saying, ‘Don’t go outside, you might die.’”
By dying earlier of other things before melanoma would kill you?

Snark aside, Australia's led the fight on skin cancer, and their statements are interesting.
posted by k5.user at 9:18 AM on January 14, 2019 [20 favorites]


apparently vitamin supplements aren't helpful?

I thought was widely known, although I thought it wasn't so much that they aren't helpful but, rather, as long as you have a well-balanced diet you don't generally need much in the way of supplements and so you're wasting your money (the old "expensive pee" joke). The fact that there are studies suggesting that they just don't work at all is news to me.
posted by asnider at 9:31 AM on January 14, 2019 [7 favorites]


I knew vitamin supplements were mostly useless-to-harmful, but was under the impression that vitamin D was still worth taking - I'm Scottish! Apparently we're all chronically D-deficient! If the only option is actual sun I guess I'm just doomed.
posted by stillnocturnal at 9:37 AM on January 14, 2019 [10 favorites]


My instinct is that this has something to it. These days I'm rather shocked at how many people I know are being diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency, but reading that sunscreens hinder vitamin D production makes a lot of sense. I'm pretty sure all of those people (all women) are using day creams or make-up with sunscreen.
I've always been extremely scared of skin cancer, because a friend of mine died from it when he was very young, and the proces was harrowing. And also I have fair skin and once had a terrible sunburn when we were at a beach and there was no access to shade. But in spite of that, I rarely wear sunscreen, preferring shirts and hats, and I spend a lot of time outdoors every day. Like it says in the article, it seems counterintuitive to me that one needs to cover ones body with chemicals, when our ancestors managed just fine without.
posted by mumimor at 9:37 AM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


This jives with my experience and also what my doctor has been telling me. I have low levels of Vitamin D, which is pretty common for people who live in colder climates, particularly people with darker skin (like me!) - while my doctor recommended the supplements she also said the best way to get it was to spend 15 minutes out in the sun each day when the UV was not at its strongest.

I still wear sunscreen every day in the summer (the next three days the UV rating is “extreme” at 12, 13 and 11 - far higher than the 3 given by the council to go uncovered and is a common rating in these months) but I still make sure to give myself some sun time when possible.

I think it’s a challenge, lots of us in my generation here grew up with very strong messaging about protecting yourself from the sun, we learnt about the “hole” in ozone layer near Australia which seemed to turn the sun into a literal death ray, and seemingly everyone knows someone who has had some kind of skin cancer scare - which isn’t to say that people also don’t know someone who has died of another cancer or of a heart attack but it’s a lot harder in your brain to draw a straight line between those things and lack of vitamin d in the way it is to connect sun exposure and skin cancer.
posted by liquorice at 9:38 AM on January 14, 2019 [7 favorites]


This research is clearly sponsored by the Big Outdoors.
posted by hat_eater at 9:43 AM on January 14, 2019 [48 favorites]


Worst "would you rather" ever.

I am super fair but walk outside a lot and am rotten about sunblock except in hot weather and someday I will die of something so maybe I won't change anything?
posted by wellred at 9:44 AM on January 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


Mark Sisson's been saying this for a long, long time.

FWIW I don't sunscreen anywhere except my face because I just don't want to age there any faster than I need to (it's built into my cheapo Trader Joe's moisturizer). My kids don't get sunscreen unless the daycare bucks for it, and then I use mineral sunscreen so they have the telltale "smell". I use rash guards when I know we'll be at the beach for a long spell. I live by the ocean, and I hate sunscreen, I always have. It's disgusting stuff.
posted by offalark at 9:44 AM on January 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


I've been trying to balance my body's needs with this too, and sorry to say, I have often defaulted to just staying the hell out of the sun. I'm very fair skinned and burn easily, plus too much time in the sun on a hot enough day just leaves me with what amounts to a hangover if I fail to wear sunglasses at all times and don't hydrate exactly the right amount. Too often, it's too much trouble to manage and I stay indoors or in the shade. But I can't deny that I feel better on those weekends where I spend an hour reading outside in the sunshine.

I guess I ought to make more of an effort to split the difference: sunscreen on my face and a hat, nothing everywhere else and stay out long enough for the benefits of sunshine. Or maybe I'll do 30 minutes of reading/walking/whatever in the sun sans sunblock, then apply sunblock for the rest of the outdoors period? It's all well and good to say "build up a tan in the spring like your ancestors" but I haven't managed a real tan since I was a kid, I just burn, and when the burn is gone, I'm maybe half or a quarter of a shade darker at best. Ugh. Everything is killing us, I guess.
posted by yasaman at 9:50 AM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'll take the high blood pressure, thanks. But I guess other people might not be me.
posted by East14thTaco at 9:51 AM on January 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


I"m about the same as you, wellred. I walk to and from work everyday. In the summer, I usually wear short sleeves and generally don't wear sunscreen unless it's extremely hot or the UV rating is especially high. I rarely burn because I get enough sun in smallish increments to build up a tan. When I do burn, it's usually because I've been at the beach and my back (which generally won't have much of a tan) it exposed too long...so I do try to wear sunscreen if I'll be at the beach all day, even though I hate the stuff.
posted by asnider at 9:52 AM on January 14, 2019


How does this track with your ancestry? Like, I'm mostly of Irish descent but I'm American living on the east coast... I imagine I get more sun than your typical Irish person, and my skin doesn't exactly seem built to deal with it.
posted by Automocar at 9:55 AM on January 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


I got a bad burn when I was ten, so I've been a little cautious about using strong sunscreen.

.....when I remember to use it. Most of the time I only use it when I'm going to be outdoors for an extended period in summer (i.e., I'm going on a hike or I'm going to go out kayaking). For run-of-the-mill daily life? Nope, not at all.

I thought I was being carelessly lax because of this. Now I guess not. Heh.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:57 AM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm fair-skinned and I hate the fucking sun. Hate it. To hell with it; if the medical community isn't even sure, I'll just do what I want and stay inside. At least I won't wrinkle. Probably.
posted by holborne at 9:59 AM on January 14, 2019 [9 favorites]


Well, I'm ditching my Vitamin D pills and going to find more time to be outside. Thanks for this! Just saved me some money.
posted by greermahoney at 9:59 AM on January 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


I have no idea how this tracks with ancestry because I'm Afghan from a mishmash of the region's ethnic groups, and yet, I am a delicate pale flower just like my damned namesake. About 2/3 of the rest of my family is olive-skinned or straight up brown, but it's me and a handful of others in the family who are pasty, which, how does that track with our ancestry. How.

If there was some service that would provide some kind of personalized sunning schedule, that feels like it would be legit helpful.
posted by yasaman at 9:59 AM on January 14, 2019 [10 favorites]


Going without sunscreen isn't an option. I'm super pale and truly don't tan, I burn and go back to being pale just so I can burn again. Never taken a vitamin supplement in my life and my vitamin D levels and blood pressure are just fine thanks.

Is anyone else hyper annoyed by lines like:
How did we get through the Neolithic Era without sunscreen?
How about by living short brutal lives where the last thing anyone was worried about was living long enough to get skin cancer? I applaud challenging the accepted wisdom but wow is that not helping their argument.
posted by cirhosis at 10:01 AM on January 14, 2019 [42 favorites]


This really sucks for people who've had melanoma. I love the sun and spend lots of time in it biking everywhere year-round. The sun does not seem to love me back, and I'd rather avoid accumulating more badass scars.
posted by asperity at 10:02 AM on January 14, 2019 [12 favorites]


i have had sunburn one single time in my life and it wasn't very nice but i remain sunscreen-free bc of sensory issues regarding me screaming aloud constantly until i perish at the thought of something sticky and greasy and FEELABLE coating my skin on a regular basis.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:03 AM on January 14, 2019 [10 favorites]


I'm fair-skinned, and my father had melanoma, so I don't think I, personally, am really in the ditch-the-sunscreen group. (Also, my blood pressure is fine.) I forget to wear sunscreen about half the time, so I'm probably fine, or else maybe I'm going to get both high blood pressure and skin cancer.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:06 AM on January 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


Sunscreen has gotten a lot better in the past few years. There's spray-on stuff that's still effective but not nearly as greasy.

I'd love to spend time outdoors without sunscreen but I burn really fast. Which is bummer because I always feel better emotionally when I've spent time in the sun.

Of course this article comes out in the middle of winter though. I want to go outside but it's below freezing and windy. :-(
posted by JDHarper at 10:07 AM on January 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


This makes complete sense to me. I've never ever gotten burned in the sun (relatively dark-skinned Indian complexion) and being in the sun always feels glorious to me. My Vit D levels are somewhat low, but not alarmingly so (I do eat a lot of meat and fish) and I get half an hour of sun exposure just from my commute (some walking). Now that I live in the northeast US (grew up in subtropical India) I think I'll need to make more of a point of staying in the sun as much as possible. Vit D supplementation has never worked for me. On the other hand, my BP is quite low so I don't think I have much to worry about in this regard.

Incidentally, the response of the doctors to this is so frustrating. Yes, just take two pills instead of none (BP medication and vit d supplements) and medicate your problems away.
posted by peacheater at 10:08 AM on January 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


Also wanted to add, I pretty much never wear sunscreen (despite all the admonitions of the medical establishment that everyone needs to wear sunscreen, it's clear that some groups need it more than others, and that the admonition is just a boilerplate, we haven't really thought too hard about black and brown people statement). I do wear foundation with spf 15 coverage, but only once a day so I doubt it makes much difference.
posted by peacheater at 10:10 AM on January 14, 2019


Well, this is interesting.

I'm an indoorsy person and am rarely outside in the sun for more than the time it takes to do my bike commute, which ranges from fifteen to thirty five minutes each way depending on route. I'm poor at applying sunscreen to anything but my face.

What this suggests to me is:

1. Continue not to apply sunscreen to extremities unless I'll be outside for a long time.

2. Maybe stop with the sunscreen in winter? Does that make sense? No other part of my body is exposed to the sun and I'm either outside for fifteen minutes during the brightest part of the day or outside for perhaps forty minutes to an hour in the crepuscule, so I'm getting very little sun.
posted by Frowner at 10:10 AM on January 14, 2019


Sunscreen is the new Margarine is the new orange is the new black is the new black is the new beige is the new beige is the new black is the new pink is the navy blue of India.
posted by glonous keming at 10:14 AM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Neolithic people didn't move around the globe, transporting themselves thousands of miles in an afternoon so they could sit in tropical sun that they're totally unused to. So that's a pretty thin argument, as are most "well, our ancestors did it this way..." justifications. You need to look at the totality of their life if you want to do that.

My guess is that there weren't a whole lot of fair-skinned Neolithic people hanging out in, well, probably anything less than 30 degrees latitude? So if you want to inhabit a different climate than your great^350 grandparents did, probably time to start thinking differently.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:15 AM on January 14, 2019 [16 favorites]


New Zealand signed on to similar recommendations, and the British Association of Dermatologists went even further in a statement, directly contradicting the position of its American counterpart: “Enjoying the sun safely, while taking care not to burn, can help to provide the benefits of vitamin D without unduly raising the risk of skin cancer.”

Leffell, the Yale dermatologist, recommends what he calls a “sensible” approach. “I have always advised my patients that they don’t need to crawl under a rock but should use common sense and be conscious of cumulative sun exposure and sunburns in particular,” he told me.


Talk about a buried lede. The headline was pure clickbait.

Also, white person here - sunburns hurt, so of course I'll keep using sunscreen if i'm going to be out in the sun for a longer period of time.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:16 AM on January 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


I read this article a few days ago and came away with the resolution to continue putting sunscreen on my face when I remember, particularly in the summer when the sun's stronger, and to relax if (when) I forget. UV-B exposure still promotes skin aging, so I still think there's value in protecting your face... At least for vanity's sake.
posted by devrim at 10:17 AM on January 14, 2019


UV-B exposure still promotes skin aging, so I (vainly) think there's still value in protecting you face...

That ship has sailed for me. Probably into the sunset.
posted by greermahoney at 10:19 AM on January 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


It'll take a lot more than this article to make me give up my sunscreen. Like, specifically, I would need to see this debunked, as well as every other piece of evidence regarding sun exposure and wrinkles. Not to mention all the cancer!
posted by witchen at 10:21 AM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


So that's a pretty thin argument, as are most "well, our ancestors did it this way..." justifications.

These arguments are especially weak in settler-colonial states like the US and Canada, since very few of us are descended from people who've lived here long enough to adapt to the climate.

How does this track with your ancestry?

I think this is a good question. The article sort of touches on it when it gets into the stuff about skin colour. I'm a bit of an euro-mutt living at a relatively northerly latitude, so I probably get more sun in the summer and less in the winter than my ancestors (Irish, Scottish and German, among possible others). Maybe it balances out?
posted by asnider at 10:21 AM on January 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


Out here in the desert, people my age find the recommendation that you should not get sunburned more than three times in your life kind of comical. As kids, we probably got sunburned three times a month during summer; we grew up before sunscreen was widely recommended. These days, I hike a lot, and I do wear sunscreen, but I tend to rely more on clothing to keep the sun off of me. Sun does nothing for my blood pressure, sadly; it's genetically bad. I do know a lot of hikers that don't bother at all with the sunscreen. So, for those authorities that recommend a balance... yeah, they're on the right track.
posted by azpenguin at 10:21 AM on January 14, 2019 [8 favorites]


yeah, no.

Irish descent person living in CA. I have had MANY burns in my life (esp childhood in the 70s with 8 SPF max) there is tons of skin cancer in my family. I'm basically in the highest risk group for skin cancer so yeah, first I put on a ton of sunscreen and then I put on my burkini and a huge hat. this works really well!

if I am going to be outside for 15m, or off season, non-midday, I'll go without to get some Vit D in my life, otherwise I take a supplement. we're all going to die of something and I choose to not have skin cancer be a likely candidate for me.

cirhosis right??? people lament modern cancer rates and imagine an idyllic sun-screen free past for our cavepeople ancestors but yeah, they were more worried about making it through puberty without being trampled by wildebeests or starving or dying from a common infection...
posted by supermedusa at 10:22 AM on January 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'm not buying vitamin D not being effective because I crash into depression without the stuff.

Granted I'm taking those 50,000 IU prescription strength monsters once a week. It's definitely not a placebo because I'm bad at adulting and if I forget for more than two weeks the shit hammer of depression comes back and starts whacking at me again. I also have the blood tests that show the before and after levels. Before my D levels were basically zero. After a year of taking the prescription strength stuff I'm back up to more nominal levels and it's made a huge difference.

Also granted, I'm sitting in the sun and also soaking it up right now.
posted by loquacious at 10:37 AM on January 14, 2019 [9 favorites]


This article just seems irresponsible to me. The main thrust of it is "here's some interesting stuff that might be true" but is there really enough science here for an adventure magazine to espouse a position that runs contrary to what doctors recommend? I don't know, man. My dad died of melanoma. He never wore sunscreen in his life, as far as I remember.
posted by something something at 10:37 AM on January 14, 2019 [17 favorites]


On days like this, I worry that I may someday die of something no matter what I do.
posted by MrJM at 10:39 AM on January 14, 2019 [17 favorites]


I'm a fair skin person who burns easily. I kind of snorted internally about "I got a bad burn one year once as a kid." I've had so many bad burns it's not funny. It used to be that 15-30 minutes out in the summer sun without sun block and I'd be a shiny red mess. I'm assuming it's just a matter waiting until I get some skin cancer. It's good to see that the bad melonoma's are mainly for those not as regularly in the sun. (on preview, I'm a red headed mixed Irish/German/Czech/Slovak descent.)

For the last few years I've become a runner who occasionally bikes. Initially I was super good with sunblock, and would still sometimes get light burns. And for any longer 2-4 hour events, regardless of sunblock and hourly reapplications I had a bad burn.

Currently, if it's not in the 12-3pm window I can do an hour without sunblock in a tank top and my skin is completely fine. Moreover, I can do 60-90min during peak sun with only 15 spf and not burn. Still, for any longer events I'll do full sunblock reapplied hourly if I can and I'll end up with minor burns only after an all-day event. My only bad burn last year was from doing all-day yard work and missing some skin that I thought my tank top would cover.

All of that is to say that one's body will adapt to going out in the sun more. In Late April I'll have been running 5 years, and estimate I have 5-10x the resistance to burning that I previously did.

I haven't read the study yet re: vit D - it and fish oil are the only supplements I take. I'm intrigued that it's described as large doses of vit D, as most "knowledge" up to this was recommended levels/supplements were all too low, so assuming this will be looking at 4k-20k IU rather than the 400-1000 IU usually recommended.
posted by nobeagle at 10:46 AM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


You know the number 1 reason I think there is something to this?
White skin evolved!
All evidence points to early Europeans having dark skin, and white skin becoming predominant in the population over a relatively short time in evolutionary terms.
Then, the first farmers from the Near East arrived in Europe; they carried both genes for light skin. As they interbred with the indigenous hunter-gatherers, one of their light-skin genes swept through Europe, so that central and southern Europeans also began to have lighter skin. The other gene variant, SLC45A2, was at low levels until about 5800 years ago when it swept up to high frequency...
The paper doesn’t specify why these genes might have been under such strong selection. But the likely explanation for the pigmentation genes is to maximize vitamin D synthesis...


Strong selection is a scientific euphemism for people with dark skin at higher latitudes died at much higher rates and passed on fewer of their genes. Fairer skinned people can weigh the pros and cons, but as a dark-skinned person, I've long thought I would be crazy to pass up on some life-giving UV by wearing sunscreen all the time.
posted by peacheater at 10:52 AM on January 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


I have very fair skin, chronically low Vitamin D levels, and my blood pressure is basically ideal. These things kind of contradict each other?

I get a decent amount of daily incidental sunlight from using my feet as my primary mode of transportation around my city, and I don't wear sunscreen daily as a matter of course, I just put it on when I'll be out in circumstances that will make me sunburn. I take Vit D3 supplements, and while I recognize the enormous power of the placebo effect, I conducted a little blind-ish trial on myself that demonstrated well enough that the effect on my mood and energy is not entirely in my head.

I guess I'm doing it right?

Meanwhile, this article focuses on public health messaging around cancer prevention, but doesn't get into sunscreen use motivated by just the aesthetic effect of sun exposure on aging skin. Especially once you get to your 40s, it's not rocket science to see how gradual sun exposure shows up on your face, chest, and hands.
posted by desuetude at 10:55 AM on January 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


Neolithic people also didn't worry about their blood pressure because they didn't generally live long enough for it to be an issue for most people!
posted by praemunire at 10:56 AM on January 14, 2019


I always try to take "everything you know about ____ is wrong!" articles with a big grain of salt, but the conclusions of this one are, to my mind, pretty mild: get some sun exposure without sunscreen sometimes.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ seems doable.
posted by sleeping bear at 10:59 AM on January 14, 2019 [15 favorites]


It'll take a lot more than this article to make me give up my sunscreen. Like, specifically, I would need to see this debunked, as well as every other piece of evidence regarding sun exposure and wrinkles. Not to mention all the cancer!

I mean, that truckdriver exposure picture in a sense "debunks" itself, in that he was a long-distance trucker with a lot of daily sun exposure. If he had a fifteen minute commute to work, where he sat indoors all day, it would be a much more ominous image.

The take-away from all this seems like what Australia and New Zealand are recommending: for people with average to low risk, low level sun exposure is more beneficial than harmful and therefore even if you're a lighter-skinned person who is going to be in the sun for fifteen minutes walking somewhere at lunch, it's okay not to slather on the sunscreen, but if you're going to be wandering around in the sun all day, you probably should.

I've often wondered about the sunscreen recommendations I read, because they seem to get more elaborate every year - to the point where now they recommend high SPF sunscreen every day even if you will be inside all day, with multiple reapplications even if you aren't sweating or in direct sunlight.

And I just feel like that's got to be overkill - sunscreen sweats off or deteriorates in the sun, but if I am careful to use the recommended amount of, eg, SPF 15 in the morning and then I sit around at my desk all day, I should still be sunscreened enough for a quick commute home.
posted by Frowner at 11:02 AM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Sigh, the study doesn't seem freely available; just the abstract.

loquacious - the study only looked at if vit d (2,000 iu, + 1gram of omerga 3) might be correlated with decreased with of cardiovascular health or cancer in males 50+ or women 55+ years of age. The results over 5 years look like the article reasonably reported that the supplements at this level did not do much. But to your personal experience, the study did not examine effect upon mood.

I'd be really curious if the study actually examined if the supplements raised the participants vitamin D levels. More commonly I'm seeing people being told to take 4k-10k IU for supplementation (and loquacious being about an order of magnitude still higher). Basing this on 2k IU might have been considered high at the beginning of the study 5+ years ago, but no longer actually seems high.

Again, I'd want to know the blood levels, and if the supplementation was enough to change the blood levels.
posted by nobeagle at 11:04 AM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Neolithic people also didn't worry about their blood pressure because they didn't generally live long enough for it to be an issue for most people!

i mean. they didn't know what blood pressure was. also iirc they ate the neanderthals.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:05 AM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


also iirc they ate the neanderthals.

*GASP*
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:07 AM on January 14, 2019 [23 favorites]


cromch
posted by poffin boffin at 11:09 AM on January 14, 2019 [15 favorites]


I mean, according to modern scholarship, it wasn't *that* kind of eating if you know what I mean.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:11 AM on January 14, 2019 [7 favorites]


Who can say what our freaky ancestors were into! Maybe it did involve The Cromch.
posted by JDHarper at 11:14 AM on January 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


The factoid I've always heard is that people with the lightest skin need only a few minutes of full-on sun a day to get an adequate amount of Vitamin D. And I'd need that debunked to buy into some of the "everything we know is wrong" framing of this article, because I (very light) have never been that concerned about wearing sunscreen to go outside for ten minutes. Do people actually do that? On the other hand the part about how the same recommendations are not appropriate for people with darker skin I totally believe.
posted by atoxyl at 11:20 AM on January 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


Re.: wrinkles: a lot of people think I am ten years younger than I am, and I credit my hat and sleeves care. But also, I've noticed with friends that smoking makes a huge difference, far, far bigger than sun exposure.

Also, not to be snarky, but after I had a terrible sunburn as a kid, I simply refused to participate in activities that could lead to sunburn. I was ridiculed and that in itself has probably led to some trauma, but I never exposed myself to that type of beach life again.
posted by mumimor at 11:24 AM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


I am really curious how this study managed to control for sunlight exposure vs getting out of the house. Which tend to be, y'know, correlated
posted by phooky at 11:28 AM on January 14, 2019 [9 favorites]


Actually, to re-rail a bit, one of the pieces of evidence we have for Neanderthals and Homo sapiens doing the dirt is some genes that are in us that we're pretty sure originated in my kin. I think one of the European red hair genes is OG neanderthalish and it's been theorized for years that pale skin might be one of them, though last I heard there wasn't so much proof for that one. So it could be that it's your neanderthal genes making some of us burn easier.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:30 AM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


I mean, according to modern scholarship, it wasn't *that* kind of eating if you know what I mean.

I guess you would know
posted by Automocar at 11:34 AM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


And I'd need that debunked to buy into some of the "everything we know is wrong" framing of this article, because I (very light) have never been that concerned about wearing sunscreen to go outside for ten minutes. Do people actually do that? On the other hand the part about how the same recommendations are not appropriate for people with darker skin I totally believe.

Many people, often women, apply sunscreen at the beginning of every day, either as part of a make-up routine or just in a moisturizer. My only face product is an SPF 30 moisturizer which I apply daily. I also have a hand moisturizer that is SPF 15 that I apply a couple of times a day.

So it's not so much "I'm going to the store, do I need to break out the sunscreen" as "I always put on sunscreen as part of my daily routine, how does this balance with the ensuing inability to create vitamin D?"
posted by Frowner at 11:35 AM on January 14, 2019 [10 favorites]


I guess you would know

*wink*
I'd continue making jokes but I'm pretty sure if I continue this derail cortex will manifest in my home and set me on fire.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:40 AM on January 14, 2019 [8 favorites]


I don't use sunscreen and do take vitamin D, and I get in the sun while walking, daily. But in the summer, I walk very early in the morning, the winter, I like to face the low afternoon sun, on the way home. Part of my walking meditation is, Thank you Sun, for shining on me." I send my gratitude out for millions of miles and try to connect this with happiness of place, activity, and time. It takes a multi-spectrum effort to keep my cynicism survivable. You just can't not have a physical relationship with the Sun, and expect for everything to be fine.
posted by Oyéah at 11:51 AM on January 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


The factoid I've always heard is that people with the lightest skin need only a few minutes of full-on sun a day to get an adequate amount of Vitamin D.

Yeah, 7-10 minutes a day for light skinned people. And for everyone concerned about wrinkles, it doesn't have to be your face.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:53 AM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


stick your leg out the window for 10 minutes every day, this is my professional medical opinion
posted by poffin boffin at 12:01 PM on January 14, 2019 [27 favorites]


To everyone banging on about the short lifespans of the neolithic - my understanding is they had average lifespans of 60 years or so. We exceeded that only very recently and it's plenty long enough to require a level of good health to achieve.
posted by deadwax at 12:15 PM on January 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


I mean it's Wikipedia and the sources listed are older but..

Based on Early Neolithic data, total life expectancy at 15 would be 28–33 years

I'd be happy to be corrected with some reputable sources.
posted by cirhosis at 12:29 PM on January 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm happy to admit I don't have any that I can dig up in a short time, it's a ten year old recollection and I could be wrong. I'm willing to stand behind it as correct for many pre-modern humans though.
posted by deadwax at 12:48 PM on January 14, 2019


Vitamin D apparently requires magnesium to be absorbed properly, and vitamin D supplementation can drive you into severe magnesium deficiency if you're not careful.
posted by jamjam at 12:49 PM on January 14, 2019


The argument that "your ancestors didn't wear sunscreen & they were fine" kinda doesn't hold up when those ancestors used to live in Northern Europe & you now live in subtropical Florida. Just try getting a dermatology appointment in fewer than 3 months around here.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:00 PM on January 14, 2019 [8 favorites]


Based on Early Neolithic data, total life expectancy at 15 would be 28–33 years

I would love to see the study that Wikipedia information is based on, because it makes zero sense to me that a 15 year old would have the same future life expectancy as an infant, which is what the chart says. I strongly suspect they're conflating the two and driving the upper bound down, because other things I've read indicate that life expectancy for adults started moving toward modern-ish levels levels 30,000 years ago, basically when you start getting more settled lifestyles that include less risk of sudden, severe injury. Once you reach the historical era, life expectancy for adults was well above 60, based on averaging out the average ages of death for people we have records of before 100BCE, which is consonant with the evidence we have for the understanding at the time of what age someone could expect to live to barring sickness or injury. I have a pretty high level of skepticism that the changes between the neolithic and 100BCE were so significant that they basically doubled adult life expectancy.
posted by Copronymus at 1:04 PM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Oops, I'm looking at other charts for this stuff and I think I might have misunderstood what was being presented. I was taking the life expectancies as totals and not as additional years to be added to what had already been lived, which yields a total expected lifespan at 15 of 43-48 per the Wikipedia chart, so it's not nearly as dramatic as I'd thought. Anyway, based on the chart in the appendix to the paper I linked in this comment, you get to an average total lifespan for a healthy adult of 50 years by the Iron Age, which is later than I'd figured but I guess makes sense.
posted by Copronymus at 1:14 PM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Magnesium is one of the things my blood tests report, but not because I'm taking vitamin D. I sporadically take a calcium-magnesium supplement though.

Vitamin D isn't a miracle pill or anything, but it helps me deal with low energy and Washington's famous lack of sunlight. If I don't take this vitamin D megadose my natural vitamin D is effectively zero in about a month. That includes even if I sit out in the sun when I can get it like I'm doing right now. I don't do sunscreen unless I'm preventing a sunburn, which is very rare around here.

The first time I had it tested years and years ago my doc was alarmed at how little I had.

I actually sometimes time my dose for days when I need to have energy, say, the night before a DJ gig or busy day.

Without it my energy crashes and I start to forget how to adult and stuff.
posted by loquacious at 1:19 PM on January 14, 2019


I check out of that article at the claim that we didn't use sunscreen until modern times. This is totally wrong. Red ochre is an effective sunscreen, with an SPF of around 5-10. This has been used by humans to cover their bodies since the palaeolithic. There is debate around this, and a lot of people feel that its use has always been more symbolic than functional. But regardless of the debate as to useage, the statement of the article "How did we get through the Neolithic Era without sunscreen? Actually, perfectly well." is still straighforwardly wrong.
posted by Vortisaur at 1:20 PM on January 14, 2019 [14 favorites]


Evolution generally selects for traits that help you survive through your fecund years, so if less melanin gave our European forebears some advantage in their twenties and then cancer at 40 natural selection don’t mind, except for the secondary advantage of having living parents to tend your kids while you hunt or farm or make other babies.
posted by nicwolff at 1:21 PM on January 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


Copronymus, the numbers listed for life expectancy at birth and at 15 are from different studies for the Neolithic line. Which is part of why I'm hesitant to use that page as a totally reliable source.

I'm not really sure I get the skepticism that small matters like say fire or building grain storage, or any of the other factors that make up even ancient civilization wouldn't at least double life expectancy. Sure physically Neolithic humans could have lived long lives given the right chances doesn't have anything to do with humans as an average living that long.

All that said... this is likely a bit straying from the point.
posted by cirhosis at 1:22 PM on January 14, 2019


And reading your update I see that I'm totally reading the charts wrong... so I likely need to rethink some of my assumptions as well.
posted by cirhosis at 1:25 PM on January 14, 2019


I just do that Gallon of Vitamin D Milk in an Hour Challenge, and then I feel so much better when I stop throwing up.
posted by valkane at 1:27 PM on January 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


I had...about 3 too many bad sunburns in an era when no one took them seriously. So yes I am wary of 'ol Mister Sun and get my moles checked. But also yeah, my ancestors probably died of the many other things you could die from, first, and also, they didn't go to waterparks or out on the lake with Uncle Keith who forgot the sunscreen and told you you'd be fine. They also probably stayed inside or in shade or at least covered on truly hot days and so didn't get severe burns.
posted by emjaybee at 1:32 PM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Well, I'm ditching my Vitamin D pills and going to find more time to be outside. Thanks for this! Just saved me some money.

Eh, ignore this hack. Besides the already quoted survivorship bias, he misrepresented the linked ("zero-tolerance stance" link) ADA guidelines (emphaseis mine):

article:
Sunscreen also blocks our skin from making vitamin D, but that’s OK, says the American Academy of Dermatology, which takes a zero-tolerance stance on sun exposure: “You need to protect your skin from the sun every day, even when it’s cloudy,” it advises on its website. Better to slather on sunblock, we’ve all been told, and compensate with vitamin D pills.
guidelines:
The AAD recommends getting vitamin D from a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in vitamin D, foods and beverages fortified with vitamin D, and/or vitamin D supplements.

This research is clearly sponsored by the Big Outdoors.
Not sure if this was meant as jokey--but a site called "Outside online" probably gets most of it's money from outdoors-related companies and enthusiasts and would have a vested interest in down-playing the issues with sun-exposure. So, not exactly wrong.
posted by MikeKD at 1:39 PM on January 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


Hmm, after searching the article, apparently the survivorship-bias hack is Richard Weller; Rowan is just repeating it. (I thought both issues were in the first paragraphs, but realized by error on post-posting review.)
posted by MikeKD at 1:43 PM on January 14, 2019


Ahaha haha. Aha hahaha.

You northern hemisphere people think you know what the sun is? You've never seen the fucking sun.

Here down under, if you don't apply sunscreen and reapply regularly sunscreen, you will burn in a few minutes. And you won't need to remember that because you will FEEL this tendrils of pain rearranging and mutating your DNA as the country is irradiated by the continuous and violent nuclear explosion above, unshielded by that fancy "ozone" stuff I've heard countries have.

We have sunscreen etiquette. It is very rude to refuse to give a stranger your sunscreen if asked, and you should always offer all your friends as well.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to this heatwave we're having.
posted by other barry at 1:48 PM on January 14, 2019 [32 favorites]


As another note, more than a few medications are known to trigger either photodermatitis or phototoxicity (there is a range of reactions, of course). I know from personal experience that phototoxicity is an under-flagged effect for several pharmaceuticals.

I am a very fair white person, but photodermatitis and phototoxicity don't necessarily respect melanin content: POC can have phototoxic and/or photosensitized reactions due to medication.
posted by Laetiporus at 1:50 PM on January 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


POC can have phototoxic and/or photosensitized reactions due to medication.

Yo. [Raises hand] I can count the number of sunburns I've had in my life on one hand, despite growing up in the 80s when Coppertone oil WAS the sunscreen, but now I have to wear long sleeves in the sun or my arms break out in horrible itchy red welts from the baleful gaze of the daystar.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:55 PM on January 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


The conclusion was not that vitamin D supplements didn't raise your vitamin D levels - just that for 3 things (cancer, heart disease, and stroke), raising those levels didn't do the things we were told it would do and that apparently direct sunlight will lower your blood pressure. Of course you have to weigh your own likelihood for skin cancer against your likelihood for heart disease due to high blood-pressure, etc. That's a decision tree everyone needs to work out for themselves.

If you were taking vitamin D for other reasons - no need to stop. They didn't test for those, apparently. High vitamin D may still be shown to help treat depression, low energy, and many other things. But the point is, there are a TON of doctors out there telling us we're not getting enough vitamin D and prescribing supplements, and if the reason they're doing it is those 3 specific things, they should stop prescribing supplements. They won't work.

I wish the article headline hadn't been that click-baity, and that they had not put in that stinker quote about the neolithic era, but there's nothing astounding in this article except that high vitamin D levels were correlated falsely for years with 3 health benefits, and that direct sunlight lowers blood pressure. Everything else in it is opinion. I look forward to the actual study being released and reviewed.
posted by greermahoney at 2:44 PM on January 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


Another Scot here. I just downloaded the app they suggest, and it tells me my next opportunity to get Vitamin D from the sun is in... 59 days.
posted by penguin pie at 2:51 PM on January 14, 2019 [10 favorites]


Here down under, if you don't apply sunscreen and reapply regularly sunscreen, you will burn in a few minutes.

You are in Australia? I get where you are coming from but the hyperbole doesn't fit my experience as a southern Australian. I commute by bike, about 10km one way or half an hour or so. I've never put sunscreen on for this and also never got burnt, as all I have exposed is skin that is well used to a little sun. If I took my shirt off then my luminous torso would very much burn, and if you changed the commute to two hours my arms and neck would eventually burn, but as is I don't burn, get more tanned or visibly change at all (my arms are olivey-coloured, they stay that way all year, my unexposed skin just about glows in the dark), and I've always thought of this as healthy sun exposure, which the article and possibly even the Cancer Council would agree with, though the Cancer Council may say I'm going a bit long I think.

The idea that you should apply sunscreen to live everyday office worker or incidentally outside life is completely foreign to me and I suspect most people I know. Working outside or spending the day at the beach is a different kettle of fish.
posted by deadwax at 2:54 PM on January 14, 2019


If you live enough north or south of the equator, you pretty much don't make vitamin D for half the year, outside or not.
posted by jeather at 3:00 PM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


.You are in Australia? I get where you are coming from but the hyperbole doesn't fit my experience as a southern Australian. I commute by bike, about 10km one way or half an hour or so

Yeah, Sydney. I'll admit to exaggeration, but seriously in summer, I would definitely be putting on sunscreen for that trip, if I was riding at midday. Commuting's a bit different as you do it early in the morning and late in the afternoon I suppose.

I was more commenting that in northern Europe and northern America, my subjective experience of the sun is that is is much, much gentler, and just seems to have less energy. My friends who have travelled all seem to agree on this as well. Australia (and I imagine the southern US too) is in another league of solar radiation intensity.

And coincidentally, my boss just showed up at work today with a band-aid on his forehead. He's just had a biopsy on a pre-cancerous spot. He has Aboriginal heritage too, so he's definitely not fair-skinned.
posted by other barry at 3:19 PM on January 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


Not all sunscreen is created equal.

In Australia they have some pretty good stuff, here's the advice that one of my family got when they had a melanoma removed recently:

at a follow-up meeting today the doctor gave me a brief tutorial on the difference between UV filters and UV blockers. The filters are more common in sunscreens but apparently do little to protect from UVB which is the melanoma one - I think he even said they might raise the risk. Blockers reflect the rays; filters absorb them, and can enable the sun's rays to cause free radicals[*] to develop under the skin surface.

The doctor handed me his own advice sheet. Selective quote:

"Many sunscreens can cause more damage than they prevent.
...

The safest seem to be MooGoo Suncream, UV Natural Sunscreen or Invisible Zinc."

Related EWG report on sunscreen.

Of my immediate family in Australia, 100% have had a melanoma treated, including one person who has only lived there for 14 years.

I wear sunscreen. I am scared of the sun.

In other news, mushrooms get vitamin D from the sun (or UV exposure) even after they have been harvested. This winter vitamin D enriched mushrooms are on sale in the UK at the same price as other mushrooms. I think I saw that on Metafilter.
posted by asok at 3:34 PM on January 14, 2019 [7 favorites]


stick your leg out the window for 10 minutes every day, this is my professional medical opinion

Interestingly, this is pretty much what I do. Occasional trips to the beach involve a sun tent, hat, shirt/baggy clothing, 50+ spray sunscreen for my upper half (cream for my face) and nothing on my legs. After 10 minutes, the legs get covered as well, and I am slowly working my way to a gentle, almost imperceptible tan (I am so white I appear blue - yay Celtic heritage) and my Vitamin D levels are slowly creeping upwards to where they should be.

My father (white, Dutch, spent time in Africa and moved to Australia in the 60's, worked outside all his life) had so many melanomas removed from his face that when he passed away in his late 80s, he had almost no wrinkles because he just lost that much skin from every procedure or the scar tissue healed tight. That will NOT be me.
posted by ninazer0 at 4:09 PM on January 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


Unless people are putting on sunscreen constantly throughout the day, I can't see how it's that that is preventing sufficient vitamin D levels, as opposed to just avoiding the sun. Even people that slap it on their face every morning - I'd always thought sunscreen loses its full effectiveness after two hours? The only time I ever reapply is if I'm at the beach or at the cricket all day.
posted by liquorice at 4:15 PM on January 14, 2019


Hello very pale people! Burn easily? By all means, use sunblock, cover up, and don't stay in the sun for extended periods of time.

But those of us who are not pale, who never had a sunburn in a child, who have a history of seasonal depression, who commute to work in a tube in the ground, who live in a city with about half the number of sun days as the place where our family comes from (and of those, many too cold to stay outside or expose skin), and whose low vitamin D levels didn't respond to 50,000 IU pills? It may not be great that doctors are giving you and us the exact same advice when it comes to sun exposure.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:25 PM on January 14, 2019 [22 favorites]


I knew MS is more common the further you get from the equater, didn't know that was true of so much else. I've wondered about how sunshine could be so bad for you given that people spent so much time out of doors until pretty recently. I like to be outside when it's a bit warmer than the current 13F and I'm lackadaisical about using sunscreen regularly, so I shall carry on being a slacker.
posted by theora55 at 4:26 PM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Maybe this is an area where those genetic tests can make a difference in what you need to do to care for yourself.
Yesterday my aunt told me about her gene test and it was really surprising to a degree that both she and I were completely baffled -- where does this come from, we had no idea that we had Scots and Italian ancestry? I know these commercial tests are not very reliable at this day and age, but I imagine at some point they will be more science-based and extremely useful for determining what sort of sun protection you need, for example. (I have been tested positive for the braca gene that gives higher risk for some types of cancer, so this isn't pure speculation for me).
posted by mumimor at 4:59 PM on January 14, 2019


There's another thing our Neolithic ancestors had that we don't, an intact ozone layer to block UV. The reason skin cancer risk went up in Australia and New Zealand, the reason they're the ones issuing guidelines, is that most of the ozone thinning due to anthropogenic chlorofluorocarbons occurred over Antarctica, and the southernmost people in the world felt the worst of it. Although the Montreal Accords of the 80s and 90s led to the banning of most ozone depleting substances, the already released compounds are highly persistent in the environment (one reason we loved them so much and they were so useful), so we are only just starting to see some evidence of a decrease in the heightened UV exposure.

Until the ozone layer is back to where it once was, arguments about our evolutionary adaptations to UV are mostly just silly. We do not live in the environment to which our ancestors were adapted. Wear a hat.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:28 PM on January 14, 2019 [23 favorites]


Yeah I could barely believe this line
"Australia’s official advice? When the UV index is below 3 (which is true for most of the continental U.S. in the winter), “Sun protection is not recommended unless near snow or other reflective surfaces. "
When UV is below 3. As liquorice said, the UV index ain't 3. It's 10 right now, forecast to hit 12 maybe in an hour, and even down in Naarm it's still 5 apparently. Looking at a couple of random dates last year, we do have 1s & 2s in June -August that I can see but plenty of 8s and 6s in March and April and 5s agains by September. It just isn't below 3 all that often.

The Cancer Council may have put those guidelines out, because I'm sure they cover a wide range of possibilities, and who knows, Tasmanians might actually get to use them, but they also played this ad an awful lot.

There's nothing healthy about a tan

So yeah, probably some worthwhile stuff for some people in some places to know, but downright dangerous to be spreading indiscriminately.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 5:46 PM on January 14, 2019 [10 favorites]


I'm an Australian GP, and a not insignificant part of my job is taking off bits of the body which are cancerous. BCCs and SCCs are waved off a bit in the article, but if you need to have even a 1cm tumour taken off the nose or ear... it's going to leave a mark. And the nose and the ear are reaaaally common spots to get that kind of cancer.

I also think it's hard to separate the health benefits of GOING OUTSIDE from sun exposure specifically, because it's a huge cofounder in a lot of these studies. Going outside is amazing for hypertension and mood disorders because you're more likely to be moving and enjoying being in the world and nature.

Also I'd take a huge grain of salt about all the vitamin D claims, because after a flurry of good press in the last few years we are now on a wave of people trying to validate all those fantastic claims and finding that maybe - while vitamin D is obviously vital for existence - supplementation is perhaps not the solution to every problem that has been claimed, and may even be harmful in certain circumstances.
posted by chiquitita at 6:07 PM on January 14, 2019 [25 favorites]


It may not be great that doctors are giving you and us the exact same advice when it comes to sun exposure.

Or most things.
I'm always surprised at how much people really want to believe there's one answer.
We can look around and see how obviously different people are yet there's one correct answer for every issue. Weird how that answer keeps changing.
posted by bongo_x at 7:19 PM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


/Not sure if this was meant as jokey--but a site called "Outside online" probably gets most of it's money from outdoors-related companies and enthusiasts and would have a vested interest in down-playing the issues with sun-exposure. So, not exactly wrong.

Outside magazine also has major advertisers who sell upf-rated clothing aimed at people who do outside activities, like North Face and Columbia and Patagonia, so they might not be as biased as you assume, or at least not in the way you assume. I learned about my favorite brand of upf-rated hat from that magazine, actually.
posted by padraigin at 7:41 PM on January 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


If I get sunburns after 30 minutes in the sun and so did my dad then why shouldn’t think that was common for my ancestors?

I do try not to put on the sunscreen til I get the crinkle tinkles of my skin starting to fry, but you can pry my non-existent sunburn out of my cold pale dead freckled hands.
posted by bleep at 9:57 PM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


I get burnt just looking at a photo of a sunny day. I also have a great fondness for floating in the pool. Waterproof sunscreen FTW!
posted by MissySedai at 10:25 PM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also fun fact even though I probably knew better, I didn’t really believe deep down my friends when they said they didn’t get sunburns. I couldn’t conceive of skin that didn’t burn. A tan is just a sunburn that doesn’t hurt and most people get at least a little bit tanned after time in the sun. I was just realizing this reading this thread and people talking about their skin not burning and the childlike bleep in my mind going wait what?
posted by bleep at 10:44 PM on January 14, 2019


I (pale Slavic person) spent the summer in leg-revealing skirts, with a minimum of 20 minutes a day outdoor walking (commute) and no leg/arm sunscreen, in a heatwave summer with a lot of sun. Nice golden tan that's still only just fading on my feet. I got tested in September and my vitamin D was still at half the level it should be.

Some bodies just don't make enough, period. I was on 6,000 units daily for three months to bring it up, and now on 4,000 as a maintenance dose. Blood pressure came down very nicely, and energy picked up as well.

(I'm still going to stick with no body sunscreen unless on long outdoor excursions and 30-50+ on my face because skin conditions, thankyou.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 2:06 AM on January 15, 2019


I'm a Fitzpatrick I Australian who grew up cringing away from the sun. I find being in direct sunlight physically painful and awful, and I've never understood people who voluntarily go out into the sun. When I was a kid I fell asleep at the beach and my entire back blistered. I've become way more outdoorsy since I've moved to the Northern hemisphere, but I still can't ditch my Australian habit of wearing sunscreen every single goddamned day. I also have colourful tattoos that I want to keep colourful.

This is an interesting article, but you can prise my vitamin D supplements and sunscreen from my cold, dead, wrinkle-free hands.
posted by nerdfish at 4:35 AM on January 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


Even people that slap it on their face every morning - I'd always thought sunscreen loses its full effectiveness after two hours? The only time I ever reapply is if I'm at the beach or at the cricket all day.

As far as I can tell this isn't precisely true, based on looking up what makes sunscreen lose effectiveness - it's something they say on the assumption that most people are thinking of sunscreen for outdoor activities. Sunscreen either deteriorates in UV light or sweats/washes off, it doesn't just stop working magically at two hours. I assume that it oxidizes or something if you leave it on long enough, and I assume that light UV exposure over a basically sunless day does something, but my reading is that if you use the appropriate quantity of moisturizing sunscreen in the morning, aren't in the sun and don't wash/rub/sweat it off over the course of the day, you still have some sun protection at the end of the day. This would mostly be of concern for people like me, who live in the northern hemisphere and have light sun exposure at the start and end of the day - if you're biking home at day's end and have a moderate pace twenty minute ride, do you need to re-up? (I should say that this is a cool-weather, not-really-sweating commute situation.)
posted by Frowner at 5:08 AM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


FYI, the Lindqvist study paper is freely available online from Wiley: Avoidance of sun exposure as a risk factor for major causes of death: a competing risk analysis of the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort. I'm not sure why Outside linked to the PubMed abstract when the paper is open access.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:35 AM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


it kind of sounds like it's less the sun that's the problem and more australia itself, which appears to want all those upon it to be in actual flames at all times.

may i suggest a sacrifice to the land in the form of a festive wicker man filled with the most obnoxious tourists you can lure into it
posted by poffin boffin at 11:13 AM on January 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


form of a festive wicker man

Hey, instead of bees in a helmet they could do spiders!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:21 AM on January 15, 2019


A quick pubmed search:

A meta-analysis of the available evidence as of November of 2018 concludes that there is [...] a small body of evidence that suggests sun exposure protects against high BP and CVD, but further research is required to determine if this is independent of vitamin D. Notably, the authors could not perform combined analyses on the datasets because they were not congruent enough.

I think that this all has the hallmarks of conclusions being drawn in the popular press from far too little evidence; this hypothesis is still in its infancy and there is not enough data.

However, I'm not willing to dismiss it out of hand, because it's not strictly epidemiological -- they have a proposed mechanism of action, nitric oxide release stimulated by UV-A, and some fairly rigorous cell-culture studies demonstrating this happening in biologically relevant ways. I want to see some naked mouse studies and some other clinical data but I think that this isn't as crazy as I was thinking it was at first.

But as others have said, okay, cool, I'm still going to put sunscreen on my face and I'm still going to put sunscreen on when the UV index is high. I can get more sunlight on my skin without getting burned.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 2:19 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


"We have to adapt products for this market.’ Well, no we don’t. This is a marketing ploy.”

This says it all. After years of doing lights for big pharmacutical and insurance conventions, listening to the presenters, I know; most everything in the "preventative medicine" movement has become nothing but a giant money grab.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:47 PM on January 15, 2019


Our Neanderthal ancestors, perhaps didn't bathe like we do, and they had many more layers of skin intact to protect from the sun. They didn't leave their skins behind, for our examination. They may have been very hairy, which is also sun protective. May have been. One statistic that stuck with me was the average age of the British factory worker at death in the 19th century, that being fifteen. Historians reported very little light in British cities, the pollution clouded most of it out. So, we are doing well by comparison, sun / no sun, vitamins or not.
posted by Oyéah at 6:30 PM on January 15, 2019


I just don't understand how the idea "too much exposure to the sun didn't kill our ancestors". We don't know what killed our ancestors because they died from everything & anything at age 30.
posted by bleep at 7:25 PM on January 15, 2019


Large ulcerating squamous and basal cell carcinomas are not going to make it into the fossil record! I have seen these tumours literally eat through half a man's face. Neolithic white people did not live in Australia. Put on the damn SPF!

(Today the UV index here hit 11, which is PURPLE on the WHO scale because RED isn't high enough. The public health advice in Australia is basically STAY IN YOUR HOUSE this week)
posted by chiquitita at 7:42 PM on January 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


(Our UV index hit 1.8 today. On Sunday, the high is going to be 0.5. So, y'know, not exactly putting the "sun" in Sunday.)
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:56 PM on January 17, 2019


UV 13 today. It's just silly.

I need to get a BCC removed from my forehead but I'll probably just grow more walking to the doctors office.
posted by kitten magic at 8:57 PM on January 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


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